March 14, 2011

Default is only game in town

Posted in Banks · 180 comments ·

I am writing this on the New York subway hurtling downtown from the Upper East Side towards Wall Street.

The old Jewish lady, all coiffed and nailed, is putting on her lipstick intently, oblivious to the rest of the crowded train.

Two students chat away about the film, The Jersey Shore, while the rest of the carriage go about their mid-morning business.

Two Latin American tourists, all gold and diamonds, in telltale Brazilian bourgeois mink coats, stand for what seems like an eternity, scanning the subway map – easy pickings for a run-of the mill mugger.

Yet they are totally safe. I remember when I first came to this city in the late 1980s, the subway was regarded by many as no-go zone.

As Irish students slumming it, the subway was the only way of getting around and there was, initially at least, a sense of adventure as you descended down into the bowels of Manhattan and breathed in that distinct subway stench, jumped the turnstiles and allowed the warm air which was pushed through the tunnels like some gigantic subterranean piston to wash over you.

For many of us then in our late teens, the subway was New York and, most importantly, it was far away from home. We were free.

However, our American employers and relations didn’t see it that way. They lectured us on the dangers of the trains and told us never to go near the subway.

This was the New York of former mayor Ed Koch, a city of violence, muggings and casual crime where the fear of the unknown appeared to terrify most people.

The place was full of rumours, and the subway became the ghoulish scene of CSI style crimes perpetrated on the innocent.

Respectable people didn’t get the subway.

Fast-forward to 2011 and all that has changed. The train is now full of those who, in the late 1980s,would have been classic victims; these same passengers have the confident swagger of the blithely unconcerned.

New York changed because the people who run the place decided to change it.

They decided they had enough. By committing huge resources, lots of thought and common sense, the New York subway became safe.

If the New York subway can change, Ireland can change.

Had you suggested two decades ago that old ladies would confidently ride the subway you would have been laughed at – but it happened.

It happened because people thought differently and decided to change. It didn’t happen by following the crowd.

The subway is an anomaly in this city, with its tooth-and-claw capitalist signature. In a country that heralds free enterprise, it is interesting that the mode of transport of choice, whisking bond traders down to Wall Street, is a heavily-subsidised public company.

The subway was cleaned up, not by some swashbuckling free-marketer, but by diligent public officials. It proves that ideology is not the only catalyst to change.

Change comes because people want it.

As I watched these bond-traders on Wall Street, in identikit Brooks Bros suits and penny loafers, queuing for lunchtime sushi, high-fiving the wonders of the private sector, I am sure they didn’t consider that the subway that got them to work is a state company.

Their minds are focused on Portugal, the euro and the next move by Ireland.

On Wall Street, the talk of Ireland is all about when we default.

No one here believes a word that comes out of the European Commission, the ECB or the organs of the Irish state.

The traders I chatted to see the numbers, they see the huge debts that are there to be paid by the people, and all agree that the way to go is to default on the bank debt and start again, protecting the sovereign in the process.

Now only the very silly would take their view on most things in life seriously; they are, in the main, one-dimensional, not particularly talented or educated lads, but they do constitute the market and the market has spoken.

They mention Ireland in the same breath as Argentina before Argentina defaulted in chaos in 2001.

The traders who were on the street at the time say that the signals are precisely the same.

Argentina went through 25 months of recession, unemployment rose and then eventually ordinary people took their savings out of their banks. Once that happened, the game was up. These Wall Street guys see Ireland as repeating precisely the same mistakes.

The interesting thing is all of them believe that, if Ireland stops paying the ‘‘odious’’ bank debts, the economy will recover extremely quickly. They also indicated that they would consider buying Irish government paper if we got rid of our bank debt. But with the bank debt, there is no way.

At the moment, Taoiseach Enda Kenny is trying to change the interest rate we face but while, a reduction of interest will help, it will only stop Ireland defaulting if we do not add any more to that debt.

Unfortunately, it now seems that the Irish banks are going to need an awful lot more cash.

Let’s imagine for a minute that the government is crazy enough to commit another €50 billion (which is not an unlikely figure) to the banks, which would increase our government debt to €195 billion.

Then add the deficits that we will need to fund for the next five years. That’s about another €45 billion.

This gives leaves our national debt at €240 billion.

Even if we manage to finance all of that at 4 per cent (which is the lowest possible figure under current arrangements), it would cost nearly €10 billion a year in interest payments alone.

That is equal to 80 per cent of the government’s income tax take in 2010. It is unsustainable. There is no way around it.

Paying interest on debt is a draw on an economy – it means money that could be invested in an economy is leaving the country. If we are paying €10 billion in interest every year and our GDP is in the region of €150 billion, we need to expand the economy by more than €10 billion each year, just to stand still.

It works like this: GDP on January 1 is €150 billion. During the year, extra economic activity in the economy adds €10 billion value to the economy, giving a GDP at end of year of €160 billion. But the economy has to pay €10 billion in interest. So we have to take that €10 billion from the €160 billion to get end-of year GDP.

That leaves the GDP at the same level as it was at the start of the year: €150 billion.

The economy will have to run to stand still. Something has to give.

The New York subway story tells us that, when the powers-that-be eventually decide to ‘get real’ with something, it can be fixed. But this needs complete political support and the change in policy needs to be dramatic.

A structured default now is the game-changer we need. The view from Wall Street this afternoon is that this is the answer.

Don’t bet against it.

  1. adamabyss

    You are preaching to the converted here David but I have been reading your blog for over two years now and in all that time the (ex)government haven’t done a damn thing right, nor listened to one iota of your excellent advice and I don’t expect the incoming lot to do any better. They don’t listen, because they don’t care. That’s the nature of politics in this country. Fair play to you for not giving up.

    • Tim

      + 1 Adam. I’m still reading here all the time, but too depressed to post much. Keeping at it in daily life and on twitter as much as possible, but some people still just don’t get it.

      Let’s keep at it.

      • adamabyss

        Yes, we will do Tim. Good to hear from you.

      • MichaelStamp

        Echoing your sentiments Tim. I don’t have much of a cogent nature to add but I am so angry at the nonsense of this country. DMcW is like Fintan O’Toole – a whisper in the bloody wilderness. All we can do is keep going and pray for the last laugh.

    • wills


      They listened to David.

      They keep a very close eye on him.

      They manipulated him into the center ground bubble bursting aftermath and used Davids blanket guarantee idea.

    • dmc

      If the game is up with the banks. What is the securing place for your money in the short term. British based institutions selling in Ireland

  2. Indeed, you’ve done sterling work to-date David. Somebody today pointed out that the cost of rebuilding Japan is estimated at €130B or there abouts. And were in the hole for, what, 180, 195, 250?

    Screw that, I’m moving to Japan!

  3. marykate

    My question is: How do we bring pressure to bear to make this happen?

  4. Ml Noonan – Trichet et all already hate his accent and think he is uneducated .

  5. wills


    Default will be used by the insiders to make a mint on it.

  6. dwalsh

    It is clear Ireland cannot carry the burden of the private sectors debts on its national balance sheet. We are in an end-game scenario. But the problem is European and Global, and our solution must and will come within that broader context. My guess is we will muddle on as we have been with bailouts and ECB injections (and heavy spending cuts and increased taxation) until the European and global crisis forces a pan-European and maybe even a Global solution.

    The banking and financial sector has bankrupted the planet by its reckless greed. Individual bankers and speculators continue to make record profits and bonuses speculating on the collapse of the global economy. They are Nero’s fiddling the books as Rome burns. Financial capitalism is a predatory parasite on the real physical economy in which we ordinary folk live and on which we rely for our livlihoods and our daily existence.

    The financial sector ought to shut down. Banking and money ought to be Soverign. The world should be for folk – not predators.

  7. [...] McWilliams thinks we have no choice but to default on the bank portion of our national debt.  Tell me where he’s wrong. Share Share and Enjoy: Tags: bank stress test [...]

  8. irishminx

    David I read today that the Irish banks need another €25 Billion and if the Irish Government entertain that madness for even a second, they’ll need their heads examined!

    Giving the Irish banks more money is just like building Nuclear power plants on fault lines, surreal insanity!

    The devastation and fall out will be catastrophic.

  9. paddyjones

    I have never known a country to decrease its national debt , maybe a few exceptions but in general it never gets repaid. It just keeps mounting up .
    But in Irelands case yes the debt will probably rise to 250 billion in 5 years time but the problem is there is no political appitite to deal with it, Bertie passed it on to Cowen, he ten passed it on to Enda and Enda will pass it on to someone else. Thats the way it works.
    Enda and Gilmore wont have a balanced budget before 2016 by that time the shit will have hit the fan and there will be default.
    But default is being put on the long finger by the EU/IMF deal , it “kicks the can down the road”.
    David is stating the bleedin obvious all you need to do is to look at the figures. I work in Finance and it the first thing I would look at.
    After default the money is still owed to creditors it never gets forgiven.
    There is only one way out …..thats to leave the country, Ireland will never recover.

  10. CitizenWhy

    You were headed to the Headquarters of Fraud, Inc., Wall Street. Our newspapers and blogs are full of well documented stories about Goldman Sachs pushed Greece and Russia into endless overloads of well hidden debt. Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan are being prosecuted for defrauding our military servicemen. Merrill Lynch provided the advice that justified the foolish debt taken on by Fianna Fail and the Irish banks. And all the money these criminal enterprises got from the US government/taxpayer is not being used for business growth but for more speculative trading and risk buildup. Goldman Sachs still controls the US treasury Dept and rules as it pleases.

    Why? Because these crooks are also employers. The political class is afraid to touch them because of all the jobs they provide, especially to the graduates of America’s elite universities. If those graduates of elite universities were not allowed to take Wall St/Fraud St jobs and loot the economy the whole myth of American financial capitalism would go into free fall, like the government of East Germany.

    • Deco

      I disagree.

      I reckon allowing those clowns to loot the economy is ensuring that the myth of finance capitalism will fail.

      Bailing them out is making sure that they drag the rest of us into their sewer.

  11. I have an extremely naive question? Or maybe not?
    Could we select a hand picked delegation to approach the markets and return with some kind of post default gaurantees?

    David seems confident that the markets will play ball? – So why not check it out?
    Could the Irish Government not offer investors a “Faith Bond” at a mutually attractive yet affordable rate.
    If the ECB don’t like it then we’ll just have to leave? (Factor that into the market deal!) To be honest I think for the sake of the success of the whole EU project – they’ll get to like it!

    When one is a true leader one most first and always do the best thing for one’s people. – It’s difficult to see how a ruined state subject to impossible debt can be a viable leaders option. Particularly when the bulk of the debt was accrued as a result of a scam!

    We absolutely signed up in good faith to the EU but history teaches that realities change!

    • chthonic

      It isn’t so much that THE MARKETS will play ball as more like that Markets can’t do anything else. Put it something like this: A young couple with two kids on a small income need their car to get themselves to schools, nrseries and to their respective jobs. Suddenly they find that they have to find money for a whole set of car tires. The cost of this is high in their unplanned budget but the tires have to be purchased without hesitation as a need. The cost is paid, squeezed painfully out of what they have. But there is no point in thinking about it as it is useless. They go on as before. They simply can’t get off the world’s edge to escape, any more than markets can escape their function: they continue relentlessly as do the world’s tides relentlessly onwards. That’s what markets are, relentlessly slushing, swilling and each tiny deal adds or detracts from the volume but continues. Similarly to this young couple who can’t get out, as all the tires bought, as every deal in every area, money, stocks, baby foods, even as ‘Cataracts and hurricanos blaw…’ Such are the forces of markets that simply have to continue

      • chthonic

        I missed the last word to that Which should have been ‘Inanimate.’ Markets are inanimate. If Ireland were to default then the markets would simply continue. Deals would still be done continually and markets would have to exist as they have to. Markets can’t be killed or stopped. They are like water or air. They continue. Blow up a tire, a baloon. Fill up a vesel with sea-water. The displacements are simply not even noticed by the main body as the tides contine their movement and air is still there. Light a match and see or notice that you haven’t stopped breathing!

  12. Philip

    Our corporate tax is now openly under threat. The EU is no longer something that makes sense to stay within – except if you’re an MEP. The Merkel and Sarkozy seem to think that Ireland is in competition with them – when in fact it is Singapore or Switzerland. Completely bonkers. The looney EU bureaucrats are now running the asylum.

    Default is the default condition.

    • Gege Le Beau

      The attack on the Irish corporate tax rate is pure political theatre (Sarkozy is fighting for his political life as deeply unpopular, Merkel might not be too far behind him). The rate will remain unchanged for obvious reasons.

    • Deco

      the hilarious thing about Sarkozy, is that he was elected with the promise that he would reduce the level of taxation, and now his solution is to push other people’s taxation up.

      He also promised to look after the rich.

      It is fair to say that he is took a very solid job in that respect.

      Google “Anglo Bondholders revealed”.

  13. Anglo Irish

    The shift in power from the EU to Germany is disturbing. The regime change has been enthusiastically endorsed by Sarkozy as he expects French advantage from the position of first lieutenant.

    That the German government should now use the institution of the EU to force a punitive financial burden on the backs of the Irish taxpayer in part to bail out the rotten German Landesbanken is a great tragedy for the EU’s raison d’etre was to avoid a repeat of the World War that followed the punitive financial burden that was placed on the backs of the German taxpayers after WW1.

    A popular call for a referendum on any further payment of bank debt could strengthen the hand of the government in their negotiations with Europe. There is a petition for such a referendum on bank debt at

    • Maeve Harrison-Barbet

      I shall go and have a look at that referendum site.

    • Gege Le Beau

      Berlin-Paris axis has always been the central one behind the so called EU project. I wrote in 2001 that the grandiose re-building of Berlin (just have a look at the Bundestag, and Chancellor’s office) was an indication of German intentions to be at the centre of the Paris-Moscow axis (controlling, West, Central and Eastern Europe reaching to the domes of Red Square) and use that as a massive spring board for its place in the global market.

      Even in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression the German economy is growing, with massive exports sector. It has been ‘positioning’ itself for decades in what is called ‘the long game’, seems to have borne them fruit.

      This is a ‘tad’ obsequious article (not sure about the ‘hesitant saviour’ or ‘generous lender’ as they are motivated by self-interest). The Brits are watching nervously, one of the reasons why Thatcher was not a fan of re-unification as she knew the day had to come.

      The hesitant saviour: how Germany bestrides Europe once again

  14. donal jackson

    Maybe a sovereign default is inevitable but its too early to deliberately do so now. The reason for such a severe interest rate is to bring us to our knees and then the EU to the rescue on their terms. We need to instigate measures now that brings them back to the table immediately. They know exactly what they’re doing to us and will be able to read the signs when we post them.Dropping the corporation tax rate is the first part of our solving our own problem.

  15. CitizenWhy

    So, in the long run, Germany won the war. It has conquered Europe, with the collaboration of France.

    • Colin

      Germany has not conquered Europe, just as China will never conquer the USA. What Germany has done has been to give free lunches to the Irish, Greeks etc…. and is now asking that these lunches be paid for, even though Germany knows it cannot be paid for, so in fact Germany is looking like a foolish nation.

  16. bernardbrennan

    I am totally convinced default and let the risk takers take a hit, sometimes happens when you gamble. Why should the man in the street have to pay that debt. Pull out of Europe and the euro if necessary. The bloody Germans and French have some nerve in my opinion it’s time to tell them exactly where to go

  17. An excellent article David, especially the first half

    You know what the natural outcome should be but some people
    still can’t get it into their minds even though the numbers are
    right there on the page in black and white

    It is like someone earning 30k being 300k in debt. The numbers are so frightening that they start to deny it instead of taking action

    Ireland is in deep denial and the media has become a dangerous problem. Yesterday the Sindo was full of nonsense about the Forbes billionaires list while attempting to convince the proles that Edna had returned from Europe a hero after verbally having slapped around Merkel and her Enfant Terrible

    The leader of our country is over in Angela’s court pleading for leniency while the people of Ireland are being doped up on billionaires lists and the impending visit by her majesty. It is funnier than Fawlty Towers. Why is everyone in Ireland acting like there is nothing important taking place? Are critically thinking people a dying species?

    Thankfully you are still writing articles that shine a beacon into the mist. There are some rough waters ahead and if we were to default what would the consequences mean for ordinary people living and working in Ireland?

    In other words just how bad could this thing get whichever course we take?

  18. CitizenWhy

    Europe wants Ireland to crawl along, paying the onerous debts. Then Europe will go for an asset grab, offering to “forgive” part of the debt if Ireland turns over certain assets, tangible and financial, to the European banks. Since energy is Europe’s primary worry, any Irish energy assets are up for foreign confiscation.

    Europe’s demand that Ireland up its corporate tax rate is not wise. In any multi-state unit, or within a US state, you want some zones to have lower tax rates in order not to have corporations flee to Asia. Obviously Merkel and Sarkozy have decided to consolidate European prosperity into Germany & France. The rest of Europe will be treated as colonies. That’s what Ireland is becoming, a colony again.

  19. uchrisn

    This is good infomation.
    At the end of the day its clearly Ireland who has to make the decision to stop getting loans to put money into the banks and see what happens.
    Unfortunatly the majority of Irish people voted for candidates who said they would put more money in, i would say completly out of short term self interest. The irony as David and almost all bloggers have been pointing out here is that actually it is not in their self interest at all.
    In that case they can no longer be deserving of much sympathy except in the case that they were brainwashed by the media.Iceland has been the best kept secret, i’m starting to doubt its existeance at this stage.
    Howver quote of the day. “Democracy is not about 2 wolves and a sheep deciding whats for supper”.
    In other words the elected government also should listen to the 600,000 thousand people who gave their 1st preference to candidates supporting not pouring more money into the banks.

  20. paddythepig

    So David goes to New York, swans around and talks to a few lads from Wall Street, who all miraculously agree with him, and everyone falls over themselves dazzled by his wisdom.


    There’s one well known and respected financier who is in the process of bidding for EBS, who believes Ireland will see a V-shaped recovery, and is willing to stake his money on it. His name is Wilbur Ross. He is also part of the market, in fact he is a very big player.

    That’s the nature of markets. Differing opinions. David, you, and a few chaps you bumped into on Wall Street don’t speak for the entire market. The market will speak for itself.

    • CitizenWhy

      One reason Wilbur wants to invest in Ireland is the low corporate tax rate (an attracator to foreign businesses, especially American or Asian).

      But Merkel has demanded, with Sarkozy singing along, that Ireland’s corporate tax rate, must be raised to match the rest of the EU. Perhaps she will shave off 1% on the ECB/IMF loan in order to get this concession. If Ireland goes along with Merkel’s dictat, you can kiss off that V shaped recovery.

  21. Paddy,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Without contasting opinions, you don’t have a market. In fact with a default and a clearing up of the banks, we could get the V shape Ross speaks of. Its just a matter of who pays now.

    Without such a move, I am no so sure.

    With rates close to 10% and the IMF here, I’m sure most bond investors feel the same way as I do. Anyway, who wouldn’t buy a small bank for nothing, if all the bad debts were shouldered by someone else. That someone is the Irish citizen?

    Best David

    • Colin


      What if we raise the corporation rate, to say, 15%? Isn’t that extra income for running the country? Is 12.5% some magical percentage that makes the difference between staying and upping sticks? Has Dell’s manufacturing base move to Poland been regarded as a huge success? Also, remember Dell still employs the guts of 1000 in Limerick in mostly high end jobs which pay quite well – no mention of these people having to take huge paycuts to keep their jobs, unlike the much maligned minimum wage employees.

      • paddythepig

        Colin, why not reduce corporation tax, and tell Sarkosy to go take a running jump. We need more corporations. If we reduced to 10%, we might even get the same tax return, but with more jobs.

        David, it’s interesting to see Wilbur Ross hover over the carcass of EBS. Even if he gets EBS for free, he must have faith in the broader economy, and the future of the country, as EBS will have to make future loans into the economy to turn a profit. If he didn’t have this faith, he wouldn’t consider investing at all.

        Also, the contrarian in me wonders if some of the smart money is acquiring Irish bonds with a near 10% yield on the secondary market, going against the consensus?

        • Gege Le Beau

          Thats what a wily Irish politician would do, that would send the right signal, not only are we not increasing it, we going to drop it! :-)

        • Deco

          The funny thing about EBS is that even if it was free, I would not regard it as a bargain. This is another case of negative equity as a bank in the Irish economy.

          A bank that has negative value. If you added it to a profitable bank, the new merged entity, as a balance sheet would be worth less.

          Three cheers for Fergus Murphy. The Murph had a stint in ACC Bank where he managed something similar, before he moved on to better things.

        • Colin


          I have an open mind on Corporation Tax. I’d be in favour of lowering it if it was guaranteed to bring in significant new FDI.

          We are not getting a proper debate about it. I mean, if we do increase it, and all the FDI up sticks and leave Ireland, the Irish economy will accelerate towards collapse, and Angela Merkel will have egg on her face and there’ll be chaos in the EZ. We’ll still be able to feed ourselves with our crops and livestock throughout a nuclear economic scenario.

  22. mcsean2163

    IMHO, the subway works because traffic was terrible in New York and people needed to get into the city. There were more jobs in the city and more people needed to get to them, so more people with less inclination to mug people had to get the subway, (no choice).

    People power.

    Maybe when the government has no choice they will do what David suggests and default.

  23. Even attempting to pay back this type of debt will lead to a dysfunctional society!
    When the concepts of right and wrong get so muddled doing wrong becomes justified.
    If we struggle as a people to pay back an unjustified debt the social cost of that will likely be more muggings, burglaries and general unsocial behaviour.
    Why? Because society is actually demonstrating that “honesty” is punitive.
    Let’s be absolutely honest and leave the debt where it belongs – And that’s not with the people!

    • irishminx

      Hi Paul,

      What is fascinating, to me, is that society IS dysfunctional, all human beings are, some to a lesser & some to a greater degree.

      Honesty is not rewarded or valued highly in our world. Just look at any whistle blowers story! It’s not that we (because we are society), intend to be economical with the truth, often it is a defense mechanism we employ, to protect ourselves from truth and the reality, that truth brings to the fore for each of us.

      It is only when we (society), make it safe for each other, that then will enable truth & honesty to slowly emerge. This in turn will bring about maturity to each of us. That truth will be as individual as you and I are. With maturity, individuals then take responsibility for their own actions and will be accountable for same.

      To achieve this, society needs to make truth safe.

      Currently, it is not!

      Have a wonderful day, the sun shines.

  24. Reminds me of all those summers at college I spent in the US… Descended from Donegal/Antrim Irish, Bill Bratton was the police chief who cleaned up NY. He had a plan.

    Our latest notion to deal with our crisis is pretty pathetic: Some vague notion of reducing the interest rate on the LOAN ? FG manifesto speaks of insurance, a levy on the banks, perhaps to negotiate a deal with the EU that if the bailout costs go above a certain ceiling, they’ll step in.
    All predicated on bank stress tests results expected end March. The markets will treat this plan with the derision it deserves.

    But there are signs of change:

    Karl Whelan has a plan and it is a very good one. Yes it follows along the lines of a debt for equity swap many of us have advocated.

    Though its only the first part of a contingency plan, that should have a further component, a modest proposal to leave the EZ, if his plan above is rejected; our negotiators should follow its terms to the letter.

    • irishminx


      I am glad you are recovering from the flu. Good luck with your new site.

      I enjoy your informative (& sometimes humourous), posts.

      Stay well.

    • Deco

      Bill Bratton would not last in Dublin.

      The legal profession do not want crime to be reduced. It would be bad for business. Let it “flourish”.

  25. Gege Le Beau

    There is a way out of all this as has been pointed out on this page fro quite some time, some form of negotiation which points out that it is a financial impossibility that a country the size of Ireland can pay back hundreds of billions of euro, a structured default or debt write down, where the sovereign debt is paid back and the commercial banking debt either dropped entirely or some percentage is paid, while the EU/IMF loan of €90 is also paid, that would mean still a staggering bill of €150 billion over 40-50 years or longer.

    Countries in the past have negotiated such loans, if I remember correctly J. M. Keynes negotiated a multi-billion dollar loan from the Americans in the post-war period, this bill was paid off in 2007 just as Blair was leaving office, whether we could or even want to do something similar remains an important point, some debts have to be honoured so we retain a measure of credibility.

    I welcome people’s thoughts as we approach the end game as we grapple with the biggest of issues. The blanket guarantee was truly a noose around our necks especially when Iceland went another road, post-colonial psychology and possible political connections (we still don’t know what actually took place) to those leading banks have a lot to answer for.

  26. Dorothy Jones

    - ‘The view from Wall Street this afternoon is that this [default] is the answer. Don’t bet against it.’ –

    That’d be a sure bet, but the odds are probably short. Default is no longer being contemplated in Europe, but an orderly default is an accepted reality. A plan for orderly default is under development; reporting of same has appeared in the media [for the last number of weeks]. Take for instance the article in Focus magazine, Nr 10/11 date 05 March 2011 entitled: ‘Plan B Haircut’. I cannot access this on the internet and am not sure if it is available in English. Notwithstanding, below are the relevant points:

    Graphics: Depicts the State debt at €160 Billion, the reduction of 30% leaves €112 Billion

    - Haircut of e.g. 60% will likely be necessary; investors will receive this % of their investment
    - This will apply to Greece within 6 months
    - Socialisation of debts resultant from private speculation cannot be allowed
    purchase of bonds from financial concerns and insurance companies has been ongoing since early 2010
    - This has resulted in EU taxpayers shouldering the State debts
    - Above from Andreas Schmidt, representative of the Association of German Bankers
    - A haircut is in end effect hardly avoidable, from Thomas Mayer Deutsche Bamk
    french exposure
    - BNP Paribas €8.1 Billion, Autumn 2010
    - Societe General €5.1 Billion
    german exposure
    - Allianz €1.3 Billion Greece, €1.1 Billion Portugal, €800 Million Irelans
    - A haircut would likely result in an decrease in payment of life insurance holders

    - Differing levels of exposure are creating a difficulty in France and Germany reaching a consensus
    - Alternatively, if the ECB continues to buy bonds as heretofore, France and Germany may be deeply effective as they are in effect Guarantors. [End quote]

    So it seems to be well under way, perhaps the German politic is merely waiting for i’s to be crossed and so on before it is announced?

    • Dorothy Jones

      In other words, perhaps the ‘sideshow’ is not the desire by Meerkel/Sarkozy that Ireland reduce corporate tax, but the Irish requests for reduced interest rate et al? I don’t know as I am just an ordinary punter reading ‘stuff’

  27. Gege Le Beau

    Regarding New York, the issues run much deeper than indicated in the article and are worth exploring in (David, take yourself along to a community centre or speak to a single New York sociologist, Colombia University is worth dropping into or NYU).

    There have been criticisms of police tactics, the BBC once reported that “Nearly 70,000 people are suing the police over being strip-searched for minor offences like fare-dodging” while normally involves the urban poor, of which there are considerable numbers (1 in 6 American children go without 3 square meals a day).

    So called ‘minorities’ have long complained of police harassment or excessive use of force/deadly force and there have been several high profile shootings of unarmed African-American men while the country wide prison population has swelled, with more African-Americans in prison in the US than in university, which some argue is part of the criminalisation of African-American life.

    There is also criticism that the major social issues were not dealt with but ‘farmed out’ to surrounding districts possibly so that rich Wall Street traders who impoverish the world can travel in safety and security. Academics has also highlighted rent increases in Harlem and Brooklyn as part of the process of ‘gentrification’, basically the entire island of Manhattan is becoming a rich only zone. The American Housing Survey (2003), which included a question on reasons for moving that about 225,000 renters with incomes below the poverty line had moved at least once and cited cost pressures among their reasons. The poor essentially are being excluded and marginalised, herded or ‘clustered together’ into large tower blocks where the social problems continue just far from 5th avenue.

    There have been considerable consequences of such policies, instead of racial and economic integration which is better for a more harmonious society, a kind of social apartheid is emerging, the poor on the outskirts (Queens etc), the rich on the island of Manhattan.

    Mayor Giuliani implemented what became known as his ‘zero tolerance’ policy which has been widely criticised. “Civil libertarians used to joke darkly that under Giuliani, New York became “a First Amendment-free zone.” His policing fetish didn’t just purge gang tags and porn houses; it closed public spaces to protest and led to a host of other efforts to quash dissent. Most of the latter were reversed in court, but the chill was on. “For the collective impact of such an unprecedented–and unprincipled–assault upon First Amendment values,” the Thomas Jefferson Centre for the Protection of Free Expression gave Giuliani its first Lifetime Muzzle Award.”

    Thankfully there is resistance to the attack on the poor and the issues are being highlighted for instance Al Jazeera recently had an excellent report on Washington D.C. (murder capital of the US with high crime levels and infant mortality rates) where a similar process is underway:

    There goes the neighbourhood

    • Colin


      You keep forgetting that David is in fact a capitalist, not a communist as you would dearly love him to be.

      • Gege Le Beau

        Not a questions of ‘ists’, it is a question of ‘knowing’.

        • Colin

          OK, well, do you ‘know’ the best way to avoid being strip searched on the New York Subway is to go and buy a ticket before you travel on it?

          • Gege Le Beau

            Every heard of subsidised travel for the impoverished? People who day in, day out, have to make a choice between the price of food or a subway ticket?

            And how is strip searching someone (a humiliating tactic) going to improve things? Will ‘traders’ who speculate on commodities which is causing a real crisis in developing countries esp. around food and fuel prices or those who ran billion dollar ponzi schemes be strip searched for the financial damage they have done?

            Seems to put the survival tactics of poor people in the ha’penny. But you are not the first nor the last to ignore the dinosaur in the room. Keep in up, I am enjoying it.

          • Colin

            Thanks for not answering my question Gege, I’m not surprised at all.

            I actually believe public transport should be free for everyone, so there’s your answer to your question. But as it stands, you should not be allowed to dodge fares whilst others pay.

            I get strip searched many times I travel through an airport, I don’t find it humiliating at all. If I misplaced/lost my subway ticket, I wouldn’t get upset about getting strip searched.

            Just to remind you, my posts here in the past quite clearly come down against ponzi scheme operations, against NAMA, against the IMF/EU deal, against bank re-capitalisation, aginst socialism for the rich – capitalism for the poor.

            I find it disturbing no one in Ireland has been charged with white collar crime. Its outrageous.

            So, now I’ve answered all your questions, any chance you’d do me the service of answering mine, a simple YES/NO would suffice.

            Glad to see you’re enjoying yourself. Any other smug comments you’d like to share with us?

          • Gege Le Beau

            @ Colin – didn’t mean to come across as smug, apologies, I enjoy the exchange.

            My grandmother used to like the old saying “you can’t get blood from a stone” as it was the line she heard from a parish priest in confession just before she and her 3 kids (she had 9 in total) were being evicted because my grandfather had held union meetings in the apartment they lived in. His employer, a famous insurance company at the time, had sacked him and told him “he would never get a job in the city again”, he won a case against them but he lost everything in the process and always used the line: “you rarely get justice in court, you get the law”.

            On the same day the sheriff and the bailiffs were putting their few belongings on the street, my grandfather returned to say he had just got a house from the city corporation and my aunt who is 81, still lives in that house today.

            I think people who can’t pay because of poverty can’t pay and should get a temporary pass at the very least to facilitate their circumstances or some other means to allow them to travel often in search of a job or other essential visits and when they have the ability to purchase a monthly ticket they do so, but this would form part of a wider strategy to smash the cycle of poverty, like access to education, housing, health services and so on.

            We desperately need the urban renewal schemes up and running in our major cities and a multi-factorial respons to endemic poverty and historical underdeveloped, now the vested interests and elites have problems with this for reasons which are so obvious I need not go into.

          • Colin

            OK Gege, thats fine.

            I could have taken a previous employer to court over a nutjob who was in a more senior position than me who was bullying everyone who worked with him including me, but I needed my reference from my line manager much more than I needed a court decision, so I didn’t act on it, but I got it resolved internally, while everyone else was too scared to raise his bullying. So I do have sympathy for your grandfather.

            I’m in favour of urban renewal too.

    • CitizenWhy

      I know Afro-American people who lived in DC when it was wonderful city for Afro-American families. Most were employed in humble jobs in the federal government, but jobs paying a living wage that enabled people to support thriving neighborhoods. In the course of 10-15 years these jobs were eliminated, and the Afro-Americans laid off. Short sighted “savings” indeed.

    • adamabyss

      Watched the ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’ video. Very complex subject but having lived in few different places in America, it seems to me it’s more of a class/education issue (not forgetting that African-American people probably get less access to good education in the first place) than a racial issue. Those places need to be redeveloped, look at the state of them (!), who could argue with that? There should be space for everyone regardless of colour/creed, but if you want to live in a better, safer area – what you really have to do is work and study harder and the opportunities will arise for you, no matter what colour you are, notwithstanding the lower starting point of most (and I stress most) African-Americans. I have a half-black daughter who lives near there so I can appreciate what goes on (I would hope). However, she’s in a middle-class neighbourhood – blacks, whites, Asians, Indians etc. and no one seems to have any issues with the blend. Some of these inner-city areas are in a dreadful state, including those we have in in Ireland. As I said earlier, I don’t think people should be living in such crowded and cramped conditions. Endless green suburbs would be a better way of organizing society with nice villages bespotted here and there. Less of the character-less shopping malls too. Selling that to the Yanks (pardon the pun) would be hard though as they love to buy crap. On the city point, with the way people can organize their work these days, we don’t need half a million people trudging pointlessly into cities every morning and back out in the evening. Society should be organized in a better way.

  28. Gege Le Beau

    No edit function so apologies for typos.

  29. Hi Gege,

    I just watched your video Washington DC. Interesting that it was commissioned by Al Jazeera – one of the best TV news stations in the world. Thanks for it. It was inspiring and very apt when it comes to rebuilding Ireland because planning, urbane design and community will be central to the type of country we try to recreate out of this mess.



    • Gege Le Beau

      Hi David,

      We could have a great Republic of Ireland if we put the principles of a Republic back in Ireland and not adhere to mindless Ireland Inc as if the country is simply an economic entity. We also badly need to question the seemingly unquestionable free market doctrine which at the very least when unregulated destroys communities and societies, this we have seen firsthand. If people want to label me a communist then that is there issue, I want to see a more equality and efficient country and with the one life I have I will continue with others to agitate for that on this page and elsewhere.

      I struggle with Ireland as I see it as a contradictory place, slightly confused about its role and place in the world, in the midst of that confusion a lot of people are making a hell of a lot of money, the Irish Independent reported the following:

      “THE 300 richest people in Ireland are worth almost €57bn or more than the entire Libyan or Croatian economy. They’ve got much richer too, with close to €6.7bn added to their combined wealth over the last year, fuelled by roaring stock markets and huge increases in the price of oil and other commodities.”

      My forefathers, not rich materially but rich in spirit and idealism, fought for the birth of the Republic, risked their lives like a lot of people from that generation, taking on the Black and Tans in Cork and elsewhere and it is more out of respect to them and the good people who struggle quietly and don’t make the glossy magazines that I raise the obvious social dimensions for economics/finance without the social is a deadly pseudoscience.

      New York is an incredible city, it literally took my breath away when I first visited in 1996 as a young student and the reception for me as an Irishman well it was second to none. But I have an affinity for the African-American community and other ‘minorities’ because I see a commonality between their ongoing struggle and our historical one.

      Sadly in American history the vested interests pitted the two cultures against one another but there are moments of outstanding historical significance when the cultures came together whether it be Frederick Douglass’ visit to all the major Irish cities in 1845 to speak out for Irish independence or the fight many Irishmen gave their lives for during the American Civil War, many of whom believed in truly freeing the slaves or the arrival of 50,000 deported Irish on the island of Barbados in 1752 where two ‘slave communities’ mixed, their descendants testimony to that successful union, part of the diaspora you have written many times about.

      The ongoing demonisation, criminalisation and exclusion of ‘minorities’ is unacceptable and if we have any sense of our history then wherever there is social injustice, racism and discrimination an Irishperson should be found in the fight.

      As I have said previously, context is everything (hard to cram into 800 words) and looking at situations in isolation like the ‘crime’ figures or ‘smoothly running subway’ can be deceptive but as I have written elsewhere, there is more than a strong streak of decency and historical depth in you while we are free to have our ideological differences, which do matter :-)

      • Colin

        But why didn’t you visit Cuba, instead of the Global Capital of Capitalism?

        • Gege Le Beau

          I have visited Cuba, it is my academic speciality. I intend to go back very shortly to cover some of the changes taking place. New York is many things to many people, there is also a vibrant left wing community for those who see in technicolour.

          Fidel even stayed there (he had to move hotel before his address to the UN as the hotel management in the first one asked him to leave). He is a welcome visitor to Harlem as this video illustrates

          • Colin

            But you can’t deny its first and foremost the Global Capital of Capitalism. Without all that money slushing around, you wouldn’t have the ‘technicolour’. Champagne Socialists are the worst kind of Socialists, since the genuine uneducated socialist can be simply misguided, unlike the Champagne Socialist who milks the Capitalist system while making money from pious commentary.

          • Gege Le Beau

            Is that all there is – the misguided, uneducated socialist or the Champagne socialist? Quite a gap to bridge it seems. Where do communists fit in or are we back to North Korea?

          • Colin

            Oh yeah, North Korean Communists are Dangerous Fascists who starve their own people. Perhaps you might visit the place and blog it down for us to digest?

            Then you have Chavez in Venezuela, another Communist hell bent on retaining power at any cost, including changing the constitution for the terms a President can serve.

            Yeah, quite a spectrum there of Communists, from the misguided to the insane.

          • Gege Le Beau

            My hands are pretty full dealing with the lunacy of capitalist neoliberals so much to analyse and critique, most especially those market fundamentalists who have learned next to nothing.

  30. george

    There is a solution to every problem.

    First we should implement debt forgiveness for the portion of negative equity, for home owners and small and medium size business.

    Second a cut of salaries and pensions lump sums and other things to the Public and Private Sector, to bring it in line with the average European salaries and conditions.
    And if we can afford for anyone in the Public Sector to have three months holidays, Christmas holidays, midterm breaks, and Easter holidays, as some have now, so everybody else should be entitled to it, or on the contrary they should have the same as the rest of us.

    Third with totally clean hands go to the EU and The ECB and arrange a default by another name.

  31. george

    If anyone is in the mood of watching good videos should watch THE ILLUSION OF MONEY

    Now I’m going to watch Gege’s video.

    • insider

      I was in DC last week. It’s full of obnoxious attorneys and dumb politicians who have no idea what’s going on in the rest of the world. It’s also very expensive so I’m not surprised the people are moving out of the city area.
      Oh and word on the street is that Wisconsin is broke – and I mean really broke.

      • Deco

        Word on the internet is that Illinois California Ohio Florida New Jersey, Massachussets, etc… are broke.

        Really broke.

        • Gege Le Beau

          But the ongong Labour struggle in Wisconsin gives huge hope, over 100,000 people are on the streets and are currently campaigning to have the Republican governor removed from office.

          I have yet to see this covered in any major way by the Irish media, correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t recall any reports on RTE-PRAVDA.

          • Deco

            Yeah. Once again no mention on Pravda-RTE.

            But we do have TV3. And TV3 are able to tell us the latest on Lindsay Lohan. And TV3 also know the latest on Charlie Sheen.

            It is a case of a choice of No News, and eh..”Non-news”. ( Grateful 4 the internet)

          • adamabyss

            Haha, have you seen the geezer just now on Primetime giving a Skype report on Japan?

            He looked more like Gary Glitter hiding out in a Bangkok brothel and came out with two gems -

            Stoykisicm (Stoicism)

            and the new earthquake ‘frayed already shattered nerves’

            If they are already shattered how can they get frayed again? – arse about face he was, Yoda-esque.

            David is on in a minute apparently, default discussion started…

        • adamabyss

          What practical difference will it make Deco?

          • Deco

            Good question.
            I reckon that when these states default (and some of their contained municipalities are already defaulting) you reach the “clean-slate level”.

            Of course, many people who worked for these states are going to be pensionless. But it is the only way that social services can continue to be provided.

            This is the way the sums are working out. This is going to get very very nasty. Lots of Irish American politicians involved in those states also.

      • adamabyss

        Yeah, DC is a real dump insider. Mind you I ventured into central Dublin today (for the Egyptian Exhibition at the RDS) for the first time in months (apart from the odd night in a pub, when it’s taxi straight in and taxi straight home) and it’s a dump too. People aren’t really supposed to live and work in cities you see – it’s not what we are designed for. If I leave Lucan I go west to Maynooth or elsewhere (Clare, Kilkenny, West Cork) for a break. Not going into Dublin again anytime soon. Finish at Maynooth, work in West Dublin area, then back to the Caribbean. Get the hell out of here. It’s depressing to see all the dirt and litter and junkies and boarded up houses in our wonderful capital city.

        PS. Wisconsin was beautiful when I was there!

        • Colin

          You’re supposed to say Dublin City Centre is charming and unique and full of characters and the craic is mighty, sure let’s bring them home for the craic and there’s no place quite like a Dublin Pub, and let’s build Metro North because London, Madrid and Paris have airports with metro connections. You’re only allowed to call Limerick a sh1thole, full of scobes, drugs and pyjama wearing women.

          • adamabyss

            Haha, maybe Colin. Every city has its good sides. I’m not much of a drinker but the pubs in Dublin are pretty friendly and the foreigners love that. It’s better by night once you are in and out to where you need to be. Not a place to be wandering around during the day. I suppose Stephen’s Green for a romantic walk could be nice. Anywhere around the Liffey though is filthy and dodgy.

        • insider

          I wouldn’t say DC is a dump but it certainly lacks soul. That Washington Monument is one seriously freaky sight at night with those blinking red eyes and that KKK pyramid cap.

          I’m back in Dublin next week. I’ll be spending my time in D4 getting the inside scoop before I hit the west coast.

          Dublin city centre is indeed dodgy Adam. It’s a terrible shame. Last time I was home I witnessed an attempted robbery and a drug deal in broad daylight. I think it was on Lower Abbey street. You can’t blame the city, but you can blame the people. I don’t necessarily feel unsafe walking around the city during the day but you are correct – it’s seriously dodgy and visitors must feel on edge.

  32. donal jackson

    We have to be very careful in how we handle this situation from here. We have signed an agreement and this is the over riding condition at the moment.Remember Jean Claude Trichet has stated that no bond holder is going to lose their money. We have to highlight the fact that bond holders did not insure their loans and ask why they didn’t. When they answer people will see how wrong Trichet, Barroso, Sarkozy and Merkel are and why they are adopting such a position. This is a more important question than one might first think???

  33. Deco

    We have a new dumb economics policy in Europe. Marxist intervention to assist the rich according to their “need”. Invented by Calamity Brown/Flash Gordon.

    No bondholder left behind.

    “not only have we saved the world….” he once told Parlaiment….

    And now the legacy. The spoiled brats revolution spoiled the left. And then the reaction spoiled the right. Repeatedly trying new, more sophisticated coverup techniques.

  34. Gege Le Beau

    The social fallout from the financial crash is really beginning to express itself and should not be overlooked in the rush for ‘growth’ which cannot be infinite given finite resources.

    60 minutes, the flagship US current affairs programme, did these two very insightful but tough to view piece which I recommend, the consequences of reckless, deregulated financial transactions for working people. No doubt a similar tale is unfolding in Ireland where according to the Labour party one third of working class kids are illiterate. Indeed, illiteracy in Ireland is a major issue, but again is brushed under the carpet.

    60 Minutes
    (to be congratulated for undertaking such work – there is hope)

    Hunger & Poverty In America

    Helping homeless children in Florida

    • Gege Le Beau

      Interesting to note that Enda Kenny in the Dail is commenting on child poverty in Ireland, some 90,000 children are living in impoverished households and do not have access to basic necessities, would love to see the leading players, commentators and celebrities getting behind an anti-poverty campaign, surely one of the most pressing issues.

      • coldblow

        Gege, it’s a really odd situation. As a child in the 60s, while there was still a lot of inequality in (English) society, the decisive wars had already been fought and won on the main principles. All that seemed to remain was a bit of technocratic tinkering and to await further, limitless, scientific progress. I know Ireland was always a failed state, but even so…

    • coldblow

      There’s also middle class illiteracy – it’s called dyslexia. Conventional school methods don’t seem to work for a large proportion of children from all backgrounds as in the developed world there is a stubbornly high percentage of people who have difficulty in reading and writing, or so I’ve heard. I’m not sure, but perhaps not everyone is cut out for it. That’s not to say that anyone should be denied the opportunity of a good education.

      • Gege Le Beau

        You point to the inflexibility of the system, which is portrayed as the inflexibility of the student, remember it is an upside down world, as Orwell clearly illustrated, when you invert most things they tend to make more sense.

        Others have stronger views on what the ‘education system’ is about:

      • Colin

        Yes Coldblow,

        I liken schooling to communism. You follow orders, you fit in, you keep your head down, you don’t ask questions, you are all equal in the eyes of the system.

        And university education is not the answer to poverty. Truth is many of the lower echelons have no interest or capability in attaining university degrees. They should be encouraged to use their talents in other areas where a university education is not a prerequisite for employment and be valued for this.

        • adamabyss

          Reminds me of something I saw or read a while ago – maybe it was David Harvey on YouTube or it could have been a Harvard Business Review article…

          The basic theory was that there is a kind of a degree/post grad ‘arms race’ going on. The more people get these qualifications, the more other people need to get them to keep up, to be able to get jobs etc.

          As a result, lots of people who would have been better off doing apprenticeships etc., and learning real crafts, end up getting masters in all sorts of useless crap and society is no better off. Not saying education is a bad thing, far from it. And everyone should have the same {opportunities} but societies need to get real too.

          Does this ring a bell with anyone? What am I remembering?

          • Gege Le Beau

            @adamabyss, you must be about to get the memo on ’4th level’ education which is currently being touted, no end to it.

          • adamabyss

            What is that all about Gege?

            But for my own part it’s definitely some article I read, just can’t put my finger on it…

          • Gege Le Beau

            @adamabyss, I attended a conference a couple of years back where the idea of a ’4th level’ of educational attainment was put forth, it was felt 3rd level was no longer sufficient especially in terms of global competition, it was thought the bar had to be pushed into post-doctoral research and beyond, I am still unsure of the feasbility/merit of it but the trend is definitely towards more qualifications at considerable expense and form the current drive which sees the corporatisation of universities. The danger is a form of educational apartheid emerges where once again those with the financial resources are able to attain while those without are left behind, sure there will be a few scholarships here and there, but as in the privatisation of health care where is ability to pay not need, in education the fear is it won’t be based not on the depth of intelligence but on the depth of the bank account.

          • adamabyss

            Yeah, I agree with you on the financing issue.

            I remember now where I read this theory. It was in the book “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism” by David’s friend Ha-Joon Chang, a Korean economist who lectures in Cambridge.

            He spoke excellently at Kilkenomics and I got the book after, not sure what chapter of the book this particular discussion is in.

        • Gege Le Beau

          ‘Lower echelons’ – hierarchical society alive and well then. I think we’ve moved on a bit from a feudal society.

          I wonder what those in the ‘lower echelons’ would make of such branding. Plus there is a bit of myth making around the lack of interest in attaining university standard education, a third of working class children are illiterate, that has to be rectified first and foremost, the barriers to education removed and overty is generational as social mobility in Ireland is appalling, the cycle of not attaining education broken can be broken through initially greater access and outreach programmes, and full state funding for students from disadvantaged areas with mentoring and guidance. They can then value themselves, that is what education does, and they won’t need someone presumably from ‘the higher echelons’ claiming to value them.

          At the very least, some effort at an level educational playing pitch has to be made but this can can only be done with massive State intervention and investment in disadvantaged areas the kind of support the State has been well able to give to the immoral banking sector.

          We need a national literacy campaign, fronted by an educated, presentable, strong communicator with a fine head of red hair……… :-)

          • adamabyss

            Equality of Opportunity as opposed to Equality of Outcome? I’m all for that.

          • Colin

            Are you denying there are lower echelons in this society?

            As for social mobility, wasn’t Bertie Ahern’s father a gardener (not the Diarmuid Gavin type)?

          • @ Colin
            Yes a gardener!
            And he specialised in bleedin’ tulips!

          • Colin

            Tulips, yes that’s right, it was effen written in the stars then. That would make sense, all things tulips including a historical and the original ponzi scheme in Tulips discussed in the Ahern household at the dinner table with young Bertie himself munching on his spuds asking his Da about how it all started and if they were benchmarked against anyones salaries or was there price fixing involving the landowners or if there were unions who represented the tulip pickers and were the union leaders engaged in social partnership.

          • Colin

            Gege, you’ll also find that McCreevy comes from modest stock, with Charlie’s father a lock-keeper on the canal in Kildare.

            Then you have Martin, current leader of the Opposition who spent 14 years at the Cabinet table, the son of a bus driver as he put it himself.

            Gilmore comes from small farmer stock.

            Adams was a barman, far from higher echelons he was reared.

            Noonan comes from West Limerick, unreknowned for higher echelons.

            So, I think you need to do some more homework before you start commenting about social mobility in Ireland. It probably doesn’t fit in with your communist narrative, but any good commentator should be able to revise their own position based on the facts.

            Oh, by the way, Sean Quinn, Seanie Fitz, Sean Dunne, Paddy Kelly at al are all very proud of their modest roots, yet managed to scale the heights of business and finance in Ireland.

          • Gege Le Beau

            @ Colin if you look at it society wide, I think you will find a very different picture. In academia, media, the judiciary, politics, business there is certainly a very tight preserve of middle to upper middle class power with the exceptions proving the rule and lack of social mobility, lack of access to education, disadvantage, discrimination, inequality etc all play roles.

            Historically this was certainly the case, well documented by J. J. Lee in his excellent ‘Ireland:1912-1985′ where a troika of church, state and professions ruled the court and stifled the development of the society as a whole, forcing hundreds of thousands to emigrate, the old pressure release.

            Vincent Browne has consistently cited OECD reports which point out Ireland’s glaring inequalities (Ireland ranks the 22nd most unequal society among the 29 most developed in the world, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) while there is a staggering and growing gap between rich and poor (more scandalous given the budgetary attacks on working people), this is not an uncommon characteristic in Western capitalist countries where wealth, access to political power and ownership of the media is in the hands of a very few. Indeed, the Irish Independent (hardly a left wing bastion) just reported the following:

            “THE 300 richest people in Ireland are worth almost €57bn or more than the entire Libyan or Croatian economy. They’ve got much richer too, with close to €6.7bn added to their combined wealth over the last year, fuelled by roaring stock markets and huge increases in the price of oil and other commodities.”

            While on the opposite range of the scale we have 90,000 children who haven’t access to life’s essentials (see Edna Kenny’s Dail speech from yesterday, hardly a Che Guevara in disguise). We have generational poverty and exclusion in Ireland for reasons that are so obvious they need not be restated, wealth, contrary to economic myth doesn’t trickle down to where it is needed, it concentrates around the privileged few.

            Just prior to the ‘great recession’ families already struggling were turning to charities such as St. Vincent De Paul and children’s charity ‘Barnados’ to help them with the cost of sending their children to school, you may have received the newspaper I sent sometime back with the photo of people queuing for food in Dublin –

            From August 2008
            “The St Vincent de Paul (SVP) says it has received thousands of calls from families seeking help with the cost of sending their children back to school. The charity says there has been a surge in calls this year and that it is putting extreme pressure on the organisation’s finances.
            The SVP says that the number of calls to its Dublin office alone has risen by 40% so far this year. More than 20% of those are looking for assistance from the charity for the first time.
            Many of the callers at this time of year are specifically looking for help with the cost of sending their children back to school, it adds.”

            02 November 2005
            “St Vincent de Paul recorded a 300% increase in the number of calls for assistance it has received over the past two years. The society, which is publishing its pre-Budget submission this afternoon, says there are 600,000 people living in poverty in Ireland.” – from RTE website.

            Barnardos have a report (see attached) called Written Out, Written Off, which highlights the social inequalities that still exist in the Irish education system and the likely impact of cutbacks within the education budget that have been made in reponse to the current economic recession.

            Literacy levels etc for children from disadvantaged areas are very poor, and have remained virtually unchanged since 1980, a damning indictment of government policy. Please see conclusions section of attached report for quick summary.

            The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) also put together a study on education and combating educational disadvantage (see attached), in their conclusions section they indicated that the current recession will impact disporportionately on disadvantaged children, hardly a surprise.

          • Gege Le Beau

            @colin – can’t attach documents, just links, but happy to send on for you to review, all available online, Combat Poverty was a useful source for information and reports but it was shut down by the last government.

          • Gege Le Beau

            @Colin – Newspaper links:

            This is the one to those queuing for food, Irish Examiner Story

            Same story made the Sydney Morning Herald

            Barnados Report: Written off, Written Out

          • Colin


            Social mobility doesn’t demand the children of the well off to become working class. Social mobility allows those who reach the top do so by merit, and not by birthright alone.

            Ahern, McCreevy, Martin, Adams, Noonan, Gilmore enjoy or enjoyed huge power which their families did not bestow on them. They are too numerous to be exceptions. Likewise Fitzy, Dunne, Kelly, et al….there’s just too many of them to be merely exceptions. One can only conclude that there IS social mobility in Ireland.

            Look at the power Jack O’Connor and David Begg have, they didn’t inherit it.

            Pat Kenny comes from a modest background too, and is the highest paid broadcaster in the country. George Hook’s father was a mere clerk. Ray Darcy grew up in a council house with 10 children I think. Open your eyes Gege! These people are now rich and influential. Again, far too many to be merely exceptions.

            Jim O’Hara, head of Intel here, grew up in working class Cabra. When he speaks, Ireland Inc listens. Willie Walsh, no higher echelons where he went to school. Again, too many exceptions for your argument to hold any water.

            And you still refuse to answer my questions.

          • Gege Le Beau

            @ Colin – I doubt Darcy, Kenny or Hook will be getting invites to the Trilateral Commission or Bilderberg Group anytime soon. I am talking about people who dictate economic policy not people who report it, world of a difference.

            You point to a handful of people and ignore in selective fashion the tens of thousands of children being failed, the hundreds of thousands excluded, marginalised, a ‘Republic’ with a populace that has a walk on part to the greatest economic crisis in the history of the State brought about by a small group of key players with inter-relationships born out of private schooling, familial and other ties, the majority come from priviledged backgrounds, Jesuit educated in fact, a point Vincent Browne raised on his show one evening with Father McVerry who courageously pointed out that he was against privately run Jesuit educational institutions.

            There are always exceptions, people who by dint of a particular ability or opportunity get through just like some women get into the Dail or corporate boardroom, but that doesn’t change the fact that the demograhic of such places is white, middle to upper class males and women still cry out (rightly in my view) against discrimination, sexism and under-representation.

            Hence writers like Golding and Orwell writing their blistering attacks om elite society or C. Wright Mills and his excellent critique ‘The Power Elite’ (did they just imagine it all??).

            Politics can be an even tigher affair, just look at the number of political dynasties and the private education of the leading players in FF, FG and Labour but it does throw up people like Martin for the reasons I have outlined.

            It is always interesting to examine the Alumni of private colleges and make the connections, you might see some interesting names if you pay close attention:

            Belvedere College

            Clongowes Wood College

            Blackrock College

          • Colin

            What country are you talking about?

            “the demograhic of such places is white, middle to upper class males and women still cry out (rightly in my view) against discrimination, sexism and under-representation.”

            Do we have native non-whites who are being kept quiet and out of view?

            Regarding women, please go and read Kevin Myers article yesterday, you’ll see that Irish society is actually anti male.


            There are more than a handful of such people who you denote as exceptions, do you really want me to list them all for you? Mick Wallace TD, property developer earning huge salary from nationalised banks/NAMA, not someone born with a silver spoon up his arse. Pat McDonagh of Supermacs, fast food tycoon, born in Co Galway with a plastic fork up his arse, and now trying to reduce the minimum wage of his employees.

            You want equality of outcomes. Irish electorates don’t, which is something Vincent Browne still can’t get his head around. Irish people want fairness and equality of opportunity. If a child goes to school and is not encouraged to do his/her homework by his/her parents, then that child does not deserve to enjoy the same outcomes as the child who does his/her outcomes.

          • irishminx

            Gee Colin, reading Kevin Myers article took me aback. I’m not normally shocked by language, but he did shock me.

            However, he has high lighted inequalities among men. And men in Mountjoy do need to be housed in accommodation as good as their female inmates. Dare I say, without or without “Buzzing Rabbits”!!

            Also, within Government there needs to be more women.

            The truth is, everyone is equal. Except some people do not take this reality as a truth, mainly for their own gain.

            It is up to each one of us to make those mind shifts to bring about equality, each respecting and honouring the male and female differences. Each human being has their own uniqueness to being to our world.

          • Colin


            I can’t believe you’ve just said men and women are equal.


            I’m confused. Who has shocked you more, Myers or McKay?

            Men and women are not equal. Men can’t get pregnant and have babies, women can. Women can’t lift concrete blocks up to a blocklayer on a building site.

            You also have hormonal differences between the sexes.

            If you want to know who is suffering the most in this society, look at the suicide statistics, it comes down 90-10 in favour of men, and alas its not an equal 50-50 as you seem to think it ought to be.

  35. down with that sort of thing

    Father telegraph

    get increasingly irate reading this kind of tosh. Reality and fact seem to have been booted out of the debate. The reality is that Ireland has suffered from the ECB maintaining effective zero interest rates, but Ireland’s politicians and property developers suffered it most willingly. Zero effective interest meant Irish land prices could be hiked up out of all relation to their value by property developers and banks with the complicity of Fine Fail who presided over the systemic raping of the Irish people for the benefit of this tri-partite cabal. That said, another fact – despite knowing this, the Irish people voted these treasonous crooks in three times because of the simple fact that nobody seemed to rock the boat because everybody was doing so well out of it.
    Here’s another fact: Ireland PLC was doing so well that in 2007 a university graduate was better off in terms of salary by getting a “civil service” job for life with yearly bonuses for being more than 20% efficient than they were in actually getting a real job that actually demanded they do their job well or face the sack or even suffer unemployment even when they worked very hard but the economy just turned against them. The Civil Service wage bill alone in Ireland exceeds €75M per day – that does not count pensions, pension contributions, BIK’s etc. etc. etc. The reality is then that the whole country must pay so that a significant number can do a job that requires them to be no more than 20% efficient. When surveyed by the Telegraph virtually no UK companies would consider hiring a former civil servant simply because no business in the current economic environment can afford to carry dead weight. Why then as a country does Ireland do so? Sure, a Civil Service is needed and a good one at that that attracts the best talent that can be found. They should thus be well educated, trained and paid. But they should also be about 80% fewer in number because if they are held to private industry standards for their private sector wages they should be responsible for delivering private sector efficiency and job security – ie. you prove inept you aren’t kept on and in time promoted, you are fired.
    Nobody held a gun to Ireland’s head and forced it to bail out its banks. The fact is a hefty proportion of that debt was for development outside Ireland anyway — once Ireland’s property developers had stripped Ireland bare they quickly moved on to new EU member states in Eastern Europe. The banks should have been allowed to go to the wall as commericla enterprises that had been so grossly mis-managed that they did not deserve to survive. Instead the banker’s and property developers were bailed out by their Fine Fail friends, saddling my children’s children with the debt of buying the debts from these property developers and banks and multiples of the actual value on the market as debt’s / assets were bought from the banks and property developers at 56% of the 2007 book value, roughly treble the actual market value for landbank property at the time).
    Thus, Ireland chose to do nothing about the real problems that afflicted it — a criminally corrupt ruling party, a grossly oversize, overpaid underproductive civil service and a mass of debt from bailing out banks and property developers who should have gone to the wall. I’ll say it again, Ireland as a country chose these states of affairs.
    So it was that Ireland had to go to Europe, begging bowl in hand, pleading for the bailout that would allow Ireland to continue to keep the civil service as is, continue to bail out the banks and property developers without any reference to the actual market. Europe’s powers, the very ones that the ECB had kept rates so low for so long to stimulate their moribund economies, agreed subject to Ireland paying 100 basis points less than its sovereign debt then traded for. A generous offer at the time no doubt born of their understanding that the billions that the EU had given to Ireland ove rteh last 30 years would all be wasted unless this was done.
    Scroll forward six months. Not one Fine Fail politician has been imprisoned for fraud, treason or corruption. Fine Gael and Labour (the latter ardently opposed to any reality of any kind lest this lead to their union members having to actually work for what they are paid) are voted in on a ticket to renegotiate the EU bailout that Fine Fail jumped into to save their own interests.
    Here is the reality folks — Fine Fail legally represented the Irish State when they signed those agreements. Ireland has been given the money under those agreements. Yet Fine Gale manage to get through an election campaign without anyone actually asking them how they proposed to re-negotiate this deal without Ireland offering anything into the balance!
    Why is that? Could it be because deep down the Irish people know that this is an economy built on two things and two things alone despite all the preening and posturing: Ireland is a full EU member and Ireland’s corporate taxation rate is at least half of that elsewhere at 12.5%. In the UK its 28%. Claiming that Ireland is being punished for transparent taxation is also complete rubbish because Ireland has the very same and more tax breaks for incoming direct investment as France.
    Having watched all this farce around me, I could not help but laugh at the absolute idiocy of Enda Kenny telling Europe that he had a mandate from his electorate to change the terms of the contract by which the bailout was put in place without offering a single thing in return. I already knew the man was a few IQ points shy of being able to talk and walk all at once, but this is embarrassing.
    The fact is Europe will agree to better terms with Ireland if Ireland stops being a tax haven against the rest of Europe. Simple. Could not be more straightforward. Ireland has gained a disproportionate amount of foreign direct investment over the past 20 years thanks solely to the two pillars of the Irish Tiger economy — full EU member, 12.5% corporate taxation with numerous tax write offs. Why when Germany, France and Britain have lost so much tax revenue to businesses coming to Ireland to save on their tax bill would they want to bail out Ireland without any give and take so that Ireland can continue to steal investment and development away from the rest of Europe?
    Another fact: Ireland cannot afford to pay the current interest rates on the debt, nor the civil service salary and pensions because the corporate taxation rate is so low. So what Ireland is in effect saying is this: We want to continue to be a drain on your economy all the while not paying for the bills we have saddled ourselves with, so you have to give us better terms on the massive bailout package you generously afforded us when the rest of the world saw us as a toxic debt for nothing in exchange from us, not even a real commitment to cut our cloth according to our means”.
    Isn’t it time that everyone grew up and focused their energies instead on dealing with the mess that Fine Fail and their tri-partite cabal put us in and find a way to make Ireland more competitive for the long term by dealing with the problems that face the country with an eye on 10 years from now rather than this short termist scape goating for Europe for Irish choices?

    Father Dougal replies

    A proposal for the Irish;
    A haircut for pre €uro Bondholders at say 30 %, and post €uro Bondholders at 70 %, ship the whole lot back to Brussels and tell them to sort it out.
    Leave the EU with immediate effect.
    Yet another wealth destroying diktat from the EU could affect up to 20 Million Europeans according to Daniel Hannan, who make a part time living and some a full time living from Alternative Medicines whilst the big Pharma Lobby continue to export production and jobs with gusto to cheap labour Economies so they can afford to pay up to € 120.000 Pharma Licence Fee per Product which they have now imposed upon the alternative medicine market.And Big Pharma leaves most of the profits there as the future for Europe is bleak.
    Ireland could specialise in this. And Michael O´Leary would gladly fly the millions of Europeans over for a great couple of days in Dublin for their natural treatment.
    There would be plenty of Germans who will come, as they are now seeing also how the EU and it´s friends in Big Industry are destroying jobs, CHOICE and wealth creation for the populace.

    • coldblow

      Is Father Telegraph aware that the CS is just a small part of the PS? Or that the other main parties were happy to go along with the bubble policies (except when they were complaining that they didn’t go far enough)? Is one way of looking at the events of the last decade or so that, perhaps, not only were the usual suspects living the good life but that other elements, who hadn’t hitherto managed to do so, got to join in for a while? And would Fr Tel. belong to the former group?

  36. Interesting discussion on on debt for equity swap involvement of EFSF Karl Whelan’s

  37. irishminx

    Good question Donal.

    Now folks, you may or may not be interested, but I came across this site where this guy wrote a blog and unfairly, (imho), criticized David.

    Yes David is a well able to defend himself and does not need me to do so. But this guy is being unfair. I dislike unfair and unjust!

    Take a look, if you are interested ONLY, (ok cb ;) )

    • zzzzzzzzzz

      Thats been dealt with by DmcW, he’s fed up doing it.

      But here’s a couple of points to laugh at:

      1. The view DmcW is solely responsible over a cup of coffee for the Blanket Guarantee, is ridiculous. No character in Irish life has that Rasputin like status since John Charles McQuaid.

      2. My guess is he was stitched up. The ‘save Anglo’ cabal who wanted the guarantee used his neck to hang their mantle around it.

      3. It was sound advice, to take the heat out of the situation, allow the financial engineers time to go in, look at liquidity of Anglo and come up with a plan

      4. As far as I recall, the banks were lying and denying at the time there was a liquidity/solvency problem. Anyways, DmcW rightly has called for the end to the guarantee for years now.

      End of story.

      Moving on, good Primetime on Default tonight. ABout time, we looked at other experiences and options around this.

      My belief is we are EZ goners and its time to get out of the straight jacket they are building for us.

      We should be negotiating a separation from EZ as it appears they wish only to see our head on the plate, join with sterling and mend bridges with NI. Fill up the hotels with tourists, lower CT if necessary, burn Croke Park agreement, firesale Nama and this place will flood with tourists and opportunity in a couple of years.

      Having said the above, I’m not beyond saying DmcW is a bit of a wimp, occasionally he gets it wrong and he should have run for election. On the other hand, I’m never wrong:)

      • irishminx

        I still love your humour cb :)

        Maybe you need to run in the next election cb?!?


        I agree with what you said above btw.

      • adamabyss

        Primetime should be interesting then. Hope it validates the default debate/opion just a smidgeon more. One small step at a time.

      • Deco

        { No character in Irish life has that Rasputin like status since John Charles McQuaid.}

        You have evidently forgotten both Fingers and P.sNeary. Men of great significance in creating this debacle.

        Seanie Fitz is not a Rasputin. A deluded ego driven muppet, perhaps. But not sinister enough to be a Rasputin.

      • Gege Le Beau

        From what I have come to understand, I don’t expect a debt-equity swap, too many risks especially political, more a debt writedown, over long period (a lot more than 20 years) at a low rate, almost everyone gets out alive, politicians need resolution and got to save face, in a year everyone will have forgotten, the market by next week.

    • chthonic

      Yes, so do I. But ‘UNFAIR, UNJUST. SINISTER’ and ‘SLYLY CROOKED’ are actually what all of these pages are about in the first place, are’nt they?

  38. Deco

    Kenny is going to “fight” for a lower interest rate from the EU.

    Of course his EU partners have other ideas. The Dutch are simply fed up with being stuck with the highest per capita bill for the corruption, waste and imperial scale failures of Brussels. The Austrians, having been annoyed by Dick Roche last October, are using it as a means to humble the Irish political class. And the Germans are delaying any movement until it reaches the point that Trichet is about to interest rate – at which point Irish demands will look obscene. The Finns seem to be doing the same as the Austrians. The French don’t give a toss who gets stuck with the bill as long as certain finance houses in Paris continue to fund the French centre right and Sarko.

    When is the last time, you went into a bank manager, and discussed terms for a loan that he was about to provide you, and decided to “fight”. You didn’t.

    They have the money. The people with the money are the ones who dictate the terms. Either you pay the interest rate that the loan shark offers, or you get no loan.

    The alternative is to live within our means.

    To paraphrase Dick Cheney, “the Irish lifestyle is not for negotiation”.

    Next up is St. Patrick’s Day. Since it has been turned into a festival (extravaganza would be a better word considering the expense of it in recent years), it has tended to create scumbag riots in many cities and towns. It is practically a given that there will be incidents in some of the following locations DunLeary/Sallynoggin, Dublin North Inner city, Finglas/Ballymun, Arklow, Dundalk, Limerick, Cork city, Navan, Tralee, Wexford, etc…

    The people at the bottom of the ladder clambering in deep frustration in an attempt to buy the dream – the Irish lifestyle. But the cards are set, the deck is fixed. So they just go and get drunk (thoroughly encouraged to do so by our advertising sponsors) and wreck their own neighbourhoods. (Because Ballsbridge is too heavily policed for them to try anything there).

    The whole thing is a badly thought up spagetti junction of ideas that don’t work systemically – but which do manage to lead those that are shafter, to lead themselves astray.

    Time to celebrate something uniquely Irish. The methods used to acheive the deceit.

    • Deco

      Speaking of which – very little coverage at the annual cringe that was the ‘pilgrimmage’ to Cheltenham. It was the binge in England’s face. And how the English must have recoiled in their polite reticent manner, trying to digest it all in.

      Not that long ago, Irish builders would go over, lose a fortune, and celebrate the fact that they had so much more to lose. And to do it loudly, so that everybody would notice.

      Terrible that it ended, isn’t. Time brings humility to so many grand meaningless directionless binges of farce.

    • adamabyss

      Of course they have Arthur’s Day too now Deco, which is fast becoming part of the Irish social fabric. The baby brother to St. Patrick’s Day. A lot of people spend all day in the pub on a Sunday anyway (with their kids) but on these two ‘special’ days in the year they get to feel patriotic about it too – pulling on the green jersey – and getting as legless as is physically possible.

      • Colin

        Yes, and “This is Rugby Country” Guinness advert on tv, showing very serious young and middle aged folks in green jerseys standing motionless with the arms folded in various settings like fields, offices and bars. The word Pride is mentioned a few times. The soundtrack is haunting and celtic. It makes me sick.

        • adamabyss

          Yeah, absolute wankers, excuse my French.

        • Deco

          They display a collection actors who have perfect the expression of smug arrogance. Pride as cultural achievement of something. Absolute nonsense.

          And the one thing I notice is that they are doing nothing meaningful. Arms folded, sitting on their asses, just looking down their noses.

          The message must be something along the lines of “get with it – become a pride junkie”.

          Unbelievable. Banks in a heap. HSE in a mess. 14% unemployment(revised figures). Willie O’Dea telling us he was thinking about handing in the ministerial merk, but he was too busy to get around to it.

          Functioning like a “beer and cricuses” country. And then we get Guinness telling us that this is a country where everybody feels pride. All that is missing is the Ditherer to pop out of the cupboard and tell us the latest sports updates.

          No, on No – this is NOT “rugby country” – this is “a lot done, a lot more to do” country !!!

          (I just wonder what any travelling New Zealanders must make of this arrogance, given that they are the real rugby country). The absolute arrogance of this sort of “promotion” is astounding. It is also very dangerous. It is affirming people who have serious delusions of self-importance and grandeur – things which have got us into a right mess now.

          • Colin


            I had a feeling you might reply to that, and I’m delighted you did because no one can put it better than you. Absolutely correct 100%.

            We’ve a long way to go if this is the nonsense that mainstream Ireland still buys into.

            I’m embarrassed by this ad, I just hope it isn’t shown abroad.

          • Gege Le Beau

            You might all get a kick out of this then, hopefully they are working on a rugby one

            The Eleventh Hour 19th Minute: DAA

          • Deco

            Gege – thanks for the link of Colm Meaney trying to express pride in that 2 Billion Euro Airport Terminal. Which incidentally happens to be empty. Yes, it is a good facility. But like everything from the Ahern era, it is extremely expensive. And that is what is hurting this country now. The expensive nature of everything done in the private and public sector.

          • @deco “And the one thing I notice is that they are doing nothing meaningful. Arms folded, sitting on their asses, just looking down their noses.”

            This style of advert has its roots going back to the KerryGold ads, remember, ‘who’s taken the horse to France?’, or, the principal looking in at the teacher in the classroom, the frozen moment where the camera lingers on the scene. Then it spread to the Barry’s cup of tea, golden moments. It reached its heavenly apex on the Angeles ads which basically filled out the whole ad into frozen moments. Its back now on the DAA and Guinness ads.

            The device has its origins in the theatre, particularly the theatre of the absurd:

            “With the stage and scenario set for the audience, it is time for what literary critic Ruby Cohn coins the “ham-actor” (48)–a slight pun directed at the naming of Hamm, the character–to take stage. Within the theatre world, the phrase “hamming it up” is informally defined as purposely calling attention to oneself during performance. Hamming may include physical exaggeration, begging the moment for laughter or emotional response–usually through melodramatic line interpretation or pause, and body placement in the focal area of the acting plane. The placement of one’s body in a focal area is best represented in Endgame by Hamm’s constant insistence that he be placed directly in the center of the room (Beckett 27): accepted stage blocking principles assert that center stage is the strongest placement for stage picturization (Black 113). From center stage, Hamm delivers several lengthy, “hammed up” monologues, including his superfluous narration of the beggar man and his infant son (50). Nagg likewise shares his repeated chronicle–the tale of the prolonged trousers (22). Both father and son enact their stories in grand theatrical style, using narrative voices and dramatic pauses. These “hammy” stories within the story, like the prologue, remind the rational onlookers that they are viewing a similar performance, filled with its own narration and dramatic pause.”


            But the best proponent of the method is Pinter who teases out these unbearable moments to the maximum, Carissa here explains it very well:


          • adamabyss

            Forget Guinness and the poxy / irrelevant rugby but the terminal might get some productive and positive use in the future at least – that’s the hope at least. I agree it was unnecessary and over expensive but it’s here now and lets hope it eventually pays its way.

  39. CitizenWhy

    Any country that does not control its own currency is not fully sovereign. A small country that does not control its own currency ends up a colony.

  40. ex_pat_northerner

    I do hate it when this corporation tax rate is seen as a be all and end all. The DE/FR and indeed other EU countries (UK in particular) may have higher corporation taxes but through their old colonies are able to give corporations access to tax havens and supply a ream of tax avoidance schemes to large MNCs.
    Similarly Ireland provides this, but as we all know its the dutch sandwich, that puts the real gloss into the double Irish.
    Where are the gravy train MEPs. At least Joe Higgins is giving the burghers something to think about.. but what of Ireland’s other EU representatives. Quietly sucking of the teat ?
    As David says, a referendum is needed. It gives a moral Democratic angle to this equation.
    BTW the average German in the street has already discounted this money. They don’t like it, but loan my arse. as far as they’re concerned the money has gone. and most know its gone to the banks, not to the Irish citizen.

  41. [...] debt he stared at me in horror for a moment and then curtly denounced such an action. But a trip to Wall Street seems to have changed his mind rather [...]

  42. adamabyss

    Sky News headline – The ‘fallout’ from Japan’s nuclear crisis – now there’s a loaded sentence. Scaremongering if you ask me.

  43. Deco

    Regime change ? courtesy of Wikileaks (again). This time in an unlikely place – Japan.

    I think we have found Bertie Ahern’s long lost Japanese cousin – the Japanese Prime Minister has been accussed of “Dithering”.

  44. [...] long-form statement of this view comes from “economist, broadcaster, author” David McWilliams (hat tip Richard Smith): No one here believes a word that comes out of the European Commission, the [...]

  45. irishminx


    This is what I wrote, please read it again!

    Gee Colin, reading Kevin Myers article took me aback. I’m not normally shocked by language, but he did shock me.

    However, he has high lighted inequalities among men. And men in Mountjoy do need to be housed in accommodation as good as their female inmates. Dare I say, without or without “Buzzing Rabbits”!!

    Also, within Government there needs to be more women.

    The truth is, everyone is equal. Except some people do not take this reality as a truth, mainly for their own gain.

    It is up to each one of us to make those mind shifts to bring about equality, each respecting and honouring the male and female differences. Each human being has their own uniqueness to being to our world.

    This is your reply,

    “Author: Colin

    I can’t believe you’ve just said men and women are equal.

    I’m confused. Who has shocked you more, Myers or McKay?

    Men and women are not equal. Men can’t get pregnant and have babies, women can. Women can’t lift concrete blocks up to a blocklayer on a building site.

    You also have hormonal differences between the sexes.

    If you want to know who is suffering the most in this society, look at the suicide statistics, it comes down 90-10 in favour of men, and alas its not an equal 50-50 as you seem to think it ought to be.”

    This is me replying to the above……

    Some of your confusion is made by you not reading what I actually did write!

    I built my own house. I mixed muck, I lifted blocks and stacked them and I cut lead and slate. I designed it, I painted & decorated it too.

    I wasn’t talking gender, hormones etc Colin. Humanity is equal.

    If you don’t get that, then you don’t get it!

    Try rereading what I did write, not what you think I wrote.

    • Colin

      So Humanity is equal, yeah, thats wonderful, but what does it mean? Does it mean that we must have a 50/50 division of every subset of labour, or just those cherrypicked by the female sex? How many contractors would make a profit if they were asked to employ half of all their blocklayers as women blocklayers? Why don’t we have 7 women on the team against England on Saturday, our scrum will collapse every time but we’ll have equality, hurray! Lets have the 100m final in London in 2012 with 4 women and 4 men and see who wins, that’ll be fun.

      How many of your lady friends are interested in mixing muck and lifting blocks?

      And why are you not as outraged by what McKay said as what Myers said?

      • irishminx

        I see it’s not only women who are hysterical Colin!

        Easy tiger ………


      • Colin

        Sorry sweetie, I ain’t hysterical. I just don’t swallow any of that Political Correct Nonsense which gets ventilated far too often and rarely challenged except for Champions like Myers.

        But don’t worry, I’m used to people who disagree with me not answering simple questions I pose and slapping put downs like being hysterical, so Happy St Patrick’s Day to you.

        • irishminx


          Humanity means each person on this planet. It has nothing to do with gender.

          I can not speak for an other person, in answer to questions 3 & 4.

          I didn’t say I was “outraged”, I said his, Kevin Myers, language shocked me. Please read what I actually write.

          If the answers to your “simple questions” are simple, I would have thought you could answer them for yourself?

          I find your “Sorry sweetie” condescending. However, you said it, not me. Therefore, it is all about you.

          Your questions are in the main, gender specific & biased in my opinion.

          Happy Saint Patrick’s day to you too.

          • Colin

            ‘Easy tiger ……… :)’, well, you see, I thought you were being sweet, so apologies for sounding condescending.

            Yeah, hands up, you got me, you weren’t outraged, you were ‘shocked’, again apologies for getting that whole emotion thing arseways.

            Regarding questions simple or otherwise, they are asked usually so that a response comes back, and when there is no response, its usually because the person doesn’t like to answer the question, yes I’m aware of that too, so I’ll only ask you very very complex questions in the future should you honour me with any humble reply to any post I make here.

          • Begorrah even in the virtual chatroom the piano player stopped as Colin and the Irishminx had a bit of a barney.
            Sure the other posters weren’t to be knowin’ which way to be lookin!
            Ah but sure God is good and bein’ the day that’s in it, it seemed St Patrick himself smiled down upon the two of them and put love and understandin’ where it properly belongs!
            And there’s more important things and God Bless us all and spare us the health so we can all be payin’ our exorbitant debts.
            And then eventually in the chatroom everyone could be chattin’ again to the sound of a few reels and more than a couple of good yarns.
            God bless us all!

          • irishminx

            I read your first post and then read Myers article. His use of the words “Pussy” & “Fanny”, shocked me, they are words I don’t like and I am not used to reading them on a rag either. I wasn’t shocked by McKay’s use of the word “Balls”, as it has become the norm within our society to use that word. It does have common usage and I suppose in a sense, rightly or wrongly, it isn’t as offensive as the two other words Myers used.
            However, I felt your post was worth responding to and I didn’t for a second see that you would become, as I saw it, angry. Hence, I said you were being hysterical and then cushioned it with “Easy tiger” and a smiley face, to show you that this wasn’t worth being cross about and I hoped you’d respond accordingly. You didn’t.
            So I decided to be cleaver rather than being real with you, it is one of my defences. I tend not to like conflict, even though I am trained in conflict resolution.
            My own belief is, we are all equal, because we all come into this world with nothing and leave with nothing, in the material sense. I did make the distinction that it is important that we, men and women honour and respect each other’s differences. Thereby acknowledging that while all humanity are equal, it is also important to respect the differences between the sexes.
            On a spiritual level, men and women are equal also. I didn’t want to go into the spiritual aspect of this with you, mainly because I wasn’t confident and thought you may ridicule me even more than you were doing. Also, this site tends to be male dominated and when other aspects of life creep in here, other than economics, there can be a back lash from the men in here. This has been my experience.
            So I made the decision to be cleaver with you, rather than be real with you. Then I read the first two paragraphs of your last post and I thought, ok, now he’s being fair. That was until I read the last paragraph.
            So, I decided this had gone far enough and I decided to write and tell you exactly what I really had wanted to say earlier and didn’t, because being real is important to me and I also decided that feeling vulnerable saying this to you, was ok with me too.
            Maybe someday you’ll be in a place to explain to me why your reaction to my first post was so strong.
            I sincerely wish you well Colin.

          • Colin


            For brevity, I’ll just say this, and you can take it or leave it, but I believe Political Correctness has been really destructive to society, to males in particular. Feminism is destructive in regards to society and is one of the root causes of where we are both socially and economically.

            I’m contrarian by nature, hence my affiliation with posting here over the years on David’s site. I observed the madness, the greed, the hubris, the advertising, the ugliness of the Celtic Tiger Era and didn’t partake in it. I was born in the mid 70s, and remember how displays of wealth were frowned upon then, and it seems we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

  46. irishminx


    I love your sense of humour, thanks for bringing big smiles to my face.



    • Ah irishminx! I, like Colin, would have to have the odd disagreement with you!
      Because I think the “Making up” would be just fantastic!
      You’ve a great heart!
      Keep it up!

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